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Tuesday 12 December 2017

No rest as Roy wants more from Ireland players

Assistant manager Roy Keane wants more goals from other areas of the Ireland team as they prepare for Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Georgia. Photo: Sportsfile
Assistant manager Roy Keane wants more goals from other areas of the Ireland team as they prepare for Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Georgia. Photo: Sportsfile

Self praise is no praise is one of those theories that Roy Keane probably lives by.

So it was no surprise when the Ireland assistant manager, while speaking about the lack of contribution from Ireland midfielders in terms of goals scored while on national duty, included himself.

Nine goals in 67 caps is not the worst tally for a player but Keane knows it's not enough. "I don't know, but I probably didn't score enough myself at international level," says Keane, sadly aware that the current crop of Irish midfield players have been very shy in front of goal.

Must Do Better was the theme which came from Keane yesterday at the Ireland camp ahead of Saturday's World Cup date in Georgia, the first in a double header which will have a big in in whether Keane gets to a World Cup finals for the second time in his career.

Brittle

The Republic's side are in a good place in the World Cup qualifiers, only removed from top spot in Group D on goal difference behind a talented, but brittle, Serbia outfit. "I think we're doing okay. I think we're in there fighting," says Keane.

But ahead of a trip to Tbilisi, a place where Ireland have always laboured to a win, Keane is demanding more.

More goals, more creativity, more composure. Any arrogance in the Irish camp and a feeling that three points against the bottom seeds in the group is a given should be dashed away with memories of last year's home game with Georgia, where Seamus Coleman was the unlikely hero.

"You are always looking for more, from our attacking players, from midfield," says Keane, recalling that slog at home to the Georgians. "One of our best attacking players was our full-back, Seamus Coleman, you certainly don't want that, your best attacking player being your full-back.

"We want more from Wardy, we want more goals from our centre-halves. You want players who can create that bit of quality in tough situations or tough games.

"We have seen that in some of the games: Austria away with Wes giving in a good ball and a good finish, you need moments of quality. But we have produced them, you are not talking about 10 moments in a game, sometimes just one or two where it falls to somebody and you get the right pace on it, the right pass, the right decision making.

"We want that, if that is Harry Arter or Meyler or whoever is in midfield. We will find on Saturday, we will need someone to produce, hopefully, that bit of quality to win us the game."

Goals from wide areas would help, Keane sadly aware of that poor strike rate from midfield.

"If you are a midfield player, be that Meyler or McGeady, McClean - a decent midfielder should have a couple of goals in his locker, five or six or seven every season whether that's in the Premiership or international level, that's my argument," says Keane.

"If you are a midfield player contributing goals, it has a huge effect on the team. That's why we give Robbie (Keane) so much credit, without Robbie's goals record at international level, there wasn't other lads around him scoring enough goals either, he carried that burden far too long by himself, other lads have to contribute, particularly the wide players."

But one major plus for the management team is the presence of Jon Walters in Dublin, despite his recent injury woes. "I don't think it's the end of the world for lads to miss two or three days' training. It's not ideal but once Jon is on that plane I'd be pretty confident that he'll be available for selection," says Keane.

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